Sex Assaults Against Women in Military 'Epidemic'

Lawmaker discovers 41% of female vets at one hospital have been vicitms
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 1, 2008 7:37 AM CDT
The mother of murdered Marine Maria Lauterbach told the panel that her daughter had filed a rape claim 7 months before she was killed but the military didn't seem to take it seriously.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – A California congresswoman seeking better protection for military women said she was shocked to discover that 41% of women at a veterans hospital reported being sexually assaulted while in the service, CNN reports. "We have an epidemic here," Jane Harman told a House panel yesterday. "Women in the US military are more likely to be raped by a fellow soldier than killed by enemy fire in Iraq."

Only 8% of reported military sexual assaults are referred to court-martial proceedings, in contrast to a 40% prosecution rate in the civilian world, she said. Members of the panel investigating the issue expressed outrage when they discovered that the Pentagon's top official on sexual abuse had been ordered by the Defense Department not to show up. "I don't know what you're trying to cover up here, but we're not going to allow it," said Harry Waxman.